Infidelity is one of the most difficult things a couple can experience. Not only does the betrayed partner have feelings of grief and confusion that must be addressed, but the unfaithful partner has feelings of guilt and worry to work through. And that’s all before the couple can begin to reestablish trust and intimacy.
Although most Americans disapprove of extramarital relationships, there is about a 25 percent chance in any relationship that an extramarital affair will occur at some point over the course of the entire relationship. Many of the affected couples do, in fact, choose to pursue counseling for infidelity to save their relationship.
Understanding where infidelity comes from is difficult. There are many catalysts behind this phenomenon, and these will ultimately originate within the specific circumstances of the affected couple. Infidelity is not just a domain of those in troubled relationships but can happen to couples who are generally happy with each other. Affairs may be a consequence of a deep-seated relationship dissatisfaction, but they can also stem from personal issues experienced by one partner.
Although not exhaustive, the below list includes some of the common causes of infidelity:
- Emotional dissatisfaction—physical and emotional intimacy in a relationship is handicapped and one partner finds that his or her needs can be better met outside of the marriage.
- Feeling of powerlessness—one partner may feel that his or her position in a relationship has been degraded; an extramarital affair becomes a way of restoring self-esteem and a sense of power and control.
- A wish to end the relationship—infidelity is often the ultimate strategy to end an unhappy marriage.
- Other factors internal to the relationship—marital conflicts over matters unrelated to betrayal, major life developments (recent parenthood, empty-nest syndrome), depression of one spouse.
- Personal issues and needs of one partner—low self-esteem, sex or romance addiction, a desire to boost one’s ego and social recognition, a drive to experience pleasure and excitement.
The Challenges of Infidelity
Discovering an affair can be a very painful experience for the betrayed spouse, leaving him or her confused, angry, jealous, extremely hurt, and in some cases even traumatized. Once revealed, infidelity undercuts the feelings of trust and security in a relationship, often rendering divorce or separation inevitable. Not just the partners, but everyone else involved (e.g. children) will experience a negative impact of this event—whether on their health, mental well-being, or a general quality of their life.
Very often the betrayed person will have the need to repeatedly rehash the details of the affair, demanding full transparency from the unfaithful partner. He or she is likely to become extremely suspicious and constantly look out for more signs of disloyalty. Some individuals will also experience a great desire for revenge and will believe that this is the only way to relieve their pain—to seek retaliation they might break all contact with the involved spouse or engage in an affair. That said, those who cheated will most likely undergo an emotional turmoil themselves, experiencing intense feelings of guilt and distress, questioning whether their partner will ever be truly able to forgive and trust them again.
Thriveworks Chesterfield counselors know the turmoil infidelity can cause in a relationship. If you and your partner need help working through that pain, contact us. We’re committed to helping restore your relationship.
What Will Counseling for Infidelity Be Like?
In fact, counseling for infidelity is very similar to regular couples counseling. The main difference is the trigger that brings you to counseling. In the case of an affair, both partners are experiencing the fallout of infidelity and may seek counseling to repair the damage from that affair. However, in both couples counseling and infidelity counseling, the counselor will help you look deeper than the surface issues that brought you to a professional.
In infidelity counseling, your Thriveworks Chesterfield counselor will speak with each of you to get as complete an understanding of your relationship as possible. While your counselor will usually ask for the basic details of the affair, there won’t be a need to repeatedly go over the information.
The goal of infidelity counseling is to help both partners heal and forgive. Beyond that, we’ll work with you to determine what feelings caused the unfaithful partner to engage in the extramarital contact. Sometimes, those feelings or beliefs are totally unrelated to the marriage, and the relationship is simply a victim. In other cases—arguably most cases—the couple has unaddressed relationship troubles that led the unfaithful partner to seek emotional intimacy, sexual intimacy, or excitement from another person.
Once the hidden issues are brought into the light, the counselor will help you and your spouse learn communication skills, reestablish intimacy, and create a relationship that meets the needs of both partners.
The complexity of emotions following a disclosure of infidelity makes it very hard for the affected partners to deal with the situation alone. Without professional support, they may act in a manner that further aggravates the conflict. Counseling for infidelity will not only help the couple manage the initially extreme feelings but can also enable them to tackle the underlying problems that contributed to the affair.
Thriveworks Chesterfield Counseling for Infidelity
At Thriveworks Chesterfield, our professional couples and marriage counselors offer support to partners who are suffering as a result of infidelity. Thanks to our extensive experience we understand how to best help our clients—we design our counseling for infidelity to address the individual needs of every couple.
We don’t keep a waiting list, and we can usually schedule new clients within 24 hours. We also accept most insurance. If your relationship is in jeopardy, contact us today. You can thrive. We can help.
Grohol, John M. Psy.D. “How Common Is Cheating & Infidelity Really?” PsychCentral.com.